Apprenticeships in Engineering
Employers directly benefit from highly trained apprentices, and businesses up and down the country are now recognising the benefits that Apprenticeships create, both in terms of helping businesses secure a highly skilled workforce and by boosting productivity and staff retention.
In fact, you’d be surprised at just how much of today’s most exciting and innovative technology comes from people who have completed a manufacturing or engineering Apprenticeship.
The good news is the Government is actively encouraging Apprenticeships – the long term target is for at least one out of every five young people to be undertaking an Apprenticeship programme by 2020. The ASCL act will ensure that by 2013 an Apprenticeship place will be available to all suitably qualified young people.
But don’t let age put you off, as the aim is to increase and expand the number of 19-30 year olds undertaking Apprenticeships at Level 3.Research shows that on average, an apprentice can look to earn between £170 and £210 per week and that over the course of your career, you can earn on average £100,000 more than someone without an Apprenticeship (source: Populus on behalf of The Learning and Skills Council, 2009).
An engineering apprenticeship is an ideal way to kick-start your career in an exciting and challenging industry, giving you the opportunity to learn and gain a nationally recognised qualification while getting a weekly wage.
The industry is also striving to encourage more women into the profession, as startling statistics revealed that in 2004/5, 97% of people starting Apprenticeships in engineering in England were men, while 97% of apprentices in early year care and education were women (source: knowyourplace.org.uk).
Being an extremely diverse field, there are a good range of Apprenticeships to choose from, and the kind of work you will be doing will depend on your employer, although generally engineering apprentices will learn to take on an operator role in a certain area of engineering.
You could be doing anything from operating machines in a factory, spraying and painting sports cars or installing a telecoms system.
Through an Advanced Apprenticeship you can become either a skilled craftsperson (skilled in practical trades like fitting or machining) or a technician (involved in technical matters and problem-solving).
Manual and technical skills are important in this sector, and maths, IT and science are usually relevant. It’s also beneficial to possess the ability to work as part of a team, follow instructions and use your own initiative to solve problems.
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has responsibility for Apprenticeships in England. It has been designed to increase the number of Apprenticeship opportunities and provide a service for both employers and learners. Visit apprenticeships.org.uk for information and vacancies.
EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation is dedicated to the future of manufacturing, and designed to help businesses evolve, innovate and compete in a fast-changing world. They work with manufacturers every day so know the skills that businesses are looking for. EEF also has an Apprentice & Skills training centre for invaluable practical experience. Visit apprentices.co.uk or eef.org.uk
Another good source of information is discoverengineering.co.uk, as is registered charity Young Engineers, whose aim is to inspire young people to develop an interest in engineering, and recognise the importance and excitement of engineering as a future career. Visit youngeng.org
The UKRC is the lead organisation for the provision of advice, services and policy consultation regarding the under-representation of women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment (SET). The website, theukrc.org offers information, advice and case studies.
Women’s Engineering Society (WES), is a forum for women engineers from every branch of engineering; connect with like-minded colleagues and find inspiration and support. Visit wes.org.uk.
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